Msgr. Joseph A. Pellegrino

 

Third Sunday of  Easter: Witnesses

 

            Today’s Gospel reading is an Easter account from the Gospel of Luke.  It begins with the events that took place on the evening of Easter Sunday after Jesus had appeared to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus.  You remember the disciples were walking and talking when a stranger caught up to them and joined their conversation.  He asked them, “What are you discussing as you walk along?” One of them,  said in reply, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?...The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people; how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over to a sentence of death and crucified him.  But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel; and besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place. Some women from our group, however, have astounded us: they were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his body; they came back and reported that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who announced that he was alive.  Then some of those with us went to the tomb and found things just as the women had described, but him they did not see.”  Then, you remember, the stranger explained

scripture to them.  He  then ate with them and broke the bread and wine as He did at the Last Supper.  After this He disappeared, and they realized that this was Jesus.  Their hearts were on fire.  They ran to Jerusalem to tell Peter and the apostles that they had seen the Lord.

 

            Today’s Gospel begins right after this, with the two disciples gathered together with the Twelve telling them their experience.  Jesus again appears.  This time everyone recognizes Him, but thinks He is a ghost.  So Jesus showed them His hands and feet and told them to touch Him.  He even ate a piece of fish to prove that He was not a ghost.  He explained the scriptures leading to this moment and said, “Thus it is written that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”

 

            “You are witnesses of these things.” He called His disciples to be witnesses.  He calls us to be His witnesses.

 

            In a court of law, at least in America, when someone is called to be a witness, that person has to swear that he or she will tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  We, the witnesses of Jesus Christ, are called to give testimony that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead.  We are called to testify that there is more to life than the physical, there is the spiritual.  We are called to proclaim that Jesus Christ came, suffered,  died and rose from the dead so that we could have a share in His eternal life.  

 

            The world needs to hear our testimony.  The world needs to hear that there is so much more around us than the every day concerns of our lives, or for us Americans, our country.  The 24/7 news reports from the left and from the right provide us with incessant whining regarding the statements and actions of those with opposite views.   It makes it seem as though the world will stop if the views opposite their position are allowed to take hold on the country and the world.  Because there are few people of faith on either side in the media, they miss that all their reports pale in comparison to the only news that matters, the Good News, the Gospel.  Jesus Christ has saved the world.  He has given us eternal life.  We have to treasure this life, and lead others to His life.  We have to take a stand for all that is right and moral whether it comes from the liberals or the conservatives, and we have to fight against all that which is wrong and immoral whether it exists among the liberals or conservatives.  The bottom line of our concern is not either of the parties positions.  The bottom line for us is the Truth of Jesus Christ.  Every position in politics, every law in the land, must be seen from the perspective of the Truth of Jesus Christ. 

 

            Who is there in this country who is going to stand up for what is right and true, just and moral?  Who?  We, that’s who.  We are witnesses to Jesus Christ.  We are witnesses to His Truth.   It is our obligation to apply the Christian litmus test to the events of the world. 

 

            Let nothing disturb you,

            Let nothing frighten you,

            All things are passing away:

            God never changes.

            Patience obtains all things

            Whoever has God lacks nothing;

            God alone suffices.

 

            -- St. Teresa of Avila

 

            If only people realized that there was so much more to life than meets the eye, if only people realized that the spiritual is real, if only people realized that the eternal life of the Lord is available for them, that

the Lord is reaching out to them, then they would realize that much of their upset in politics as well as in their daily lives is insignificant next to the overwhelming truth of Jesus Christ.

 

            Someone must be found to let the world know about the only reality that matters. This is what we have been called to do.  We are His witnesses.